We can read in Goblet of Fire that it rises out of the depths of the lake.

"Slowly, magnificently, the ship rose out of the water, gleaming in the moonlight."

On the movie we see it surfacing with all its students on board.

How did it get in the lake?

  • 4
    Is this question specifically about the films?
    – Rand al'Thor
    May 7, 2019 at 16:07

2 Answers 2


JKR wrote about this in an article for Pottermore. In short, the lake is indeed completely landlocked which demonstrates that the Durmstrang ship is magical (duh) and has the ability to 'take magical shortcuts to other waterways'.

In the original draft of Chamber of Secrets, I had Harry and Ron crash into the lake in Mr Weasley’s Ford Anglia, and meet the merpeople there for the first time. At that time I had a vague notion that the lake might lead to other places, and that the merpeople might play a larger role in the later books than they did, so I thought that Harry ought to be introduced to both at this stage. However, the Whomping Willow provided a more satisfying, less distracting crash, and served a later purpose in Prisoner of Azkaban, too.

The Great Lake (which is really a Scottish loch, apparently freshwater and landlocked) never did develop as a portal to other seas or rivers, although the appearance of the Durmstrang ship from its depths in Goblet of Fire hints at the fact that if you are travelling by an enchanted craft, you might be able to take a magical shortcut to other waterways.

JKR: Writings - The Great Lake

This presumably is some form of apparition, but we don't really know and it's not explained (in any detail) elsewhere.


The full details of how it got into the lake are not explained in the book. There is one passage, though, which gives us some information about its general method of traveling. In Chapter Thirty-Seven we have the following exchange:

"Wonder how the Durmstrang students are getting back," said Ron. "D'you reckon they can steer that ship without Karkaroff?"

"Karkaroff did not steer," said a gruff voice. "He stayed in his cabin and let us do the vork."

This tells us that the ship did not primarily engage in a form of instantaneous travel such as Apparition or Portkeying, as if it did then the ship wouldn't need to be steered. It implies that the ship was actually sailing (either above water or below water) or flying, and needed to be steered in the right direction.

Additionally, the fact that Ron assumed that Karkaroff would have been steering might indicate that there is some advanced magic involved in steering it, such that the headmaster might be expected to be the one doing the steering.

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